1000 Stories Zinfandel Review (2023)

1000 Stories Zinfandel Featured

What Kind of Wine Is 1000 Stories Zinfandel?

1000 Stories Zinfandel is a full-bodied red wine uniquely crafted in Mendocino County, California. Produced only in small batches that allow for careful management, both in and out of the cellar, this deep and well-balanced Zin starts its journey in traditional French and American oak barrels.

It then spends a final 2-4 months aging in charred bourbon-whiskey barrels. This two-step aging process adds new notes of vanilla and dried herbs to the black fruit core of the Zinfandel grapes. This results in a complex but mellow red wine that will pair perfectly with red meats, BBQ dishes, as well as a strong cheese such as Roquefort.

Unlike with other red wines, Californian producers are the undisputed leaders of Zinfandel wine worldwide, with vineyards dating back to the 1880s. Today, some of the best red Zinfandels are being produced in Sonoma, Napa, Lodi, and Mendocino; and thanks to how the latter tend to rely less heavily on marketing, we can still count on Mendocino County for producing a range of top-notch Zins that will not break the bank.

1000 Stories Zinfandel Review

  • Winery — 1000 Stories
  • Country/Region — United States, California
  • Type — Californian Zinfandel
  • Aroma — Raspberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Nutmeg, Clove
  • Grapes — Zinfandel
  • Taste — Blackberry, Cocoa, Coffee, Clove, Caramel, Butterscotch
  • Alcohol Content — 15.2%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Turkey, Lamb With Anchovies, Veal Stew, Lasagna, Sausages With Peppers, Feta

1000 Stories Zinfandel is smooth, jammy, and smoky, at just the right levels. So, if you love rich and colored reds, well, what are you waiting for? If you have the chance to try it, please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought. Cheers!

Overall Rating: 4.7

  • Elegant Bouquet
  • Graceful Tasting Profile
  • Oak-aged In Bourbon Barrels
  • Can Be Too Syrupy At Times

Tasting Notes

Depending on the winemaker’s ability, the ripeness of the grapes at the time of harvest, and the climate where the vineyards are located, you may end up with an outstanding red Zin. Alternatively, you may arrive at a much lower quality wine that mixes extreme sweet jam and green characters with too much alcohol, drowning all the flavors out (think of strident wines that feel way too “hot” in the palate).

In an experienced producer’s hands, however, a red Zin can deliver spice, elegance, and freshness. Luckily, this is the case when it comes to 1000 Stories Zinfandel. While it is a bold wine, it also has a fair degree of nuance and structure. It has an alcohol content at the lower end for Zins (14.5%) and a careful grape blend leading to those pleasant characteristics.


This is a dark, high-tannin red wine leaning into a purple color, and with persistent legs. The texture is particularly smooth, but it definitely has some dryness to it as well. In terms of packaging, the brand has gone for a simple black label featuring their logo and an American bison.

On that note, I was glad to find out that this is not just about the connotations of the Zinfandel as an American symbol; apparently, 1000 Stories supports the Wildlife Conservation Society and its efforts to increase the free-range bison herd in North America, which is of course a nice perk in the feel-good department.


The main impression this Zin leaves at first is of black fruits and vanilla, but the scent reveals some other notes as the wine breathes. On the nose, there are intense dark cherry and blackberry notes, followed by smoke and hints of mint, together with earthy spices such as cinnamon and clove.


The taste is well-balanced, dry, and creamy. Dark cherry and forest berries in the palate, followed by smoke and notes of chocolate. Somewhat sweet in the middle, when the bourbon and the oak clearly come through, although it is nothing over the top. You can also sense firm tannins throughout the sip. The more subdued red fruit notes mix well with the smoke and vanilla, leaving a nice degree of acidity behind it.


Overall, both high and low notes were noticeable. The robust body of ripe black fruit ends in brown spice, smoke, and a slightly chocolatey aftertaste, reminiscent of dark cocoa in dryness and acidity. The finish is fresh and silky, and the smoky feel is a nice touch.


In this case, I was pleasantly surprised by one of the best Zinfandels I have ever tasted, especially considering the 1000 Stories Zinfandel price. It is complex and structured, but also easy on the palate. In sum, this Zin is satisfyingly flavorful, fruity, and smoked, with some interesting hints of spice, mint, and chocolate. The texture is outstandingly smooth and yet dry, just how I like it.

Still, for this review, I will give it a score of 4.7/5. This is a fantastic score, but prefer to reserve the 4.8 – 5 range for wines that are just in a different level of premium. And while this Zin (2018 batch) is innovative and rich, it probably is not up there just yet. However, and given how the producer is constantly coming up with small batches that have slight variations between each other, this might of course change in future 1000 Stories Zinfandel reviews.

1000 Stories Zinfandel Food Pairing

Because of its high tannin content, this wine will be a good match for robust dishes such as game, red meat dishes like beef stew, or strong cheeses such as Roquefort or Gruyere. I would recommend it to go with some lamb chops marinated with herbs, black pepper, and garlic, or to go for a classic BBQ dish to indulge in an all-American experience with this Zinfandel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Makes 1000 Stories Zinfandel?

The winemaker responsible for this Zin’s great delivery is Bob Blue, who says that when he started making wine in the early 80s, French and American oak barrels were not easy to come by, so it was usual to purchase ex-Bourbon barrels to finish wine in California. This nod to the past was the inspiration for the bold feeling of the 1000 Stories Bourbon barrel-aged Zinfandel—and I am glad it was because this is a satisfyingly nuanced red Zin.

1000 Stories is affiliated to Fetzer Vineyards, which has been owned by Chilean wine giant Concha y Toro from 2011. Since the brand’s launch, the demand for it has kept on soaring, and distribution has expanded to new markets outside the US, like Denmark, the UK, and Switzerland. Despite all of this, 1000 Stories Zinfandel wine is still being produced in 5000-case batches, which is one of the brand’s biggest appeals: their wines tell a different story each time around.

How Is 1000 Stories Zinfandel Made?

The lots for this red Zin began aging in traditional American and French oak barrels, before spending some time in new Bourbon barrels, which are typically charred. The Bourbon barrels are thus able to impart leathery and smoked characteristics to the wine, adding some more complexity to the jammy core that is commonly associated to red Zinfandels.

Finally, the wine is transferred to another set of old Bourbon barrels that have already been used by “some of America’s most celebrated distilleries”, according to the brand. This is thought to perfect the fruity body of the wine with added spice.

Where Is 1000 Stories Zinfandel Made?

1000 Stories Zinfandel is produced in California and sold in small batches, much like craft spirits and beers. The careful grape blend is also 100% made in California and comes from old head-trained Zinfandel vines in Mendocino County (4%), the so-called capital of Zinfandel Lodi (15%) and Paso Robles vineyards (10%). Lastly, 1000 Stories has added some Petite Sirah from Lake County to the blend to add color and spice.

Technically, it has been found that Zinfandel grapes are not just native to American soil. In fact, recent DNA tracing has connected red Zinfandel grapes to the Italian and Croatian varietals known as Primitivo and Crljenak Kaštelanski. Still, there are important differences in the wine depending on the soil, climate, and the style of the winemaker.

American Zinfandel producers have generally broken free from the constant comparisons with the old-world (something that happens with other reds like Cabernet Sauvignon), and this has resulted in more room for innovation, as well as longer ripening times that tend to increase sugar and alcohol content in American wines.

How to Serve 1000 Stories Zinfandel?

First of all, I would recommend to let it open for at least half an hour to let all the flavors shine through. In general, red wines are best served slightly below room temperature (16-18°C), but I found this Zin was most pleasant slightly above that, at regular room temperature.

How Much Does 1000 Stories Zinfandel Cost?

The price range is somewhere between $15-30 for a 750cl bottle. If I had blind tasted this wine I would have easily placed it above the $40 mark, so that is a really affordable bottle. At this quality level, I doubt you can get your hands on something better at a similar price.

How Long Does 1000 Stories Zinfandel Last?

Once open, try to consume it in 4-6 days while the wine is still fresh. This shorter period is due to the alcohol and tannin levels in Zinfandels.

How Many Calories Does 1000 Stories Zinfandel Have?

The 1000 Stories Zinfandel calories are 80.0 Kcal / 100ml with 2.5 grams of carbohydrates. To break that down into an explanation, alcohol is what results when the yeast eats up the sugar found in grapes. If you want a dry wine, you should let the yeast consume most of the sugar (higher alcohol); if you want a sweet wine, then you have to stop this process sooner and leave some of the sugar untouched (lower alcohol).

The 1000 Stories Zinfandel alcohol content is 14.5%. This is relatively low thinking of how some Zins can reach 17%. I find this a crucial factor in explaining why it just works without being strident and hot like some other red Zinfandels. Now, this also implies considerable sweetness, with 6.0 grams of sugar per liter.


To conclude my review, let me offer a short final appraisal of this great wine: it is smooth, jammy, and smoky, at just the right levels. So, if you love rich and colored reds, well, what are you waiting for? If you have the chance to try it, please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought. Cheers!

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